Sirius XM Radio announced today that it will offer live hole-by-hole coverage of the 2011 Masters Tournament from Thursday, April 7, through Sunday, April 10, nationwide on XM channel 146 and on Sirius channel 209 with the “Best of XM” programming package.

SiriusXM listeners will get extensive coverage with live play-by-play from Augusta National Golf Club, plus expert analysis leading up to and throughout the event.

Live hole-by-hole coverage from Augusta National will begin at 2:00 pm ET Thursday through Sunday of Masters Week and air through the end of each day’s play. Fans will get live reports from reporters around the course and updates on golfers moving up and down the leader board.

Live tournament play-by-play will also be available to listeners on SiriusXM Internet Radio and through the SiriusXM Internet Radio App for the Apple iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and several BlackBerry and Android-powered smartphones.

Leading into each day’s on-course coverage, former PGA TOUR pro John Maginnes will host a special preview show, The Masters Today, Thursday through Sunday from 12:00 to 2:00 pm ET.

Additionally, every weekday throughout Masters Week, SiriusXM’s daily lineup of shows will offer the latest news, compelling golf talk and expert analysis. From 7:00 to 9:00 am ET, Matt Adams hosts Fairways of Life, followed by Teed Off with Brian Katrek from 9:00 to 11:00 am ET. Longtime golf commentator Peter Kessler hosts Making The Turn from 11:00 am to noon ET.

This is cool news, but probably not even the most significant bit of info coming out of Augusta, Georgia.

The Masters has traditionally been one of the toughest tickets in sports, with a waiting list for patron badges dating back to 1971. Only spectators on the club’s list are allowed to buy tournament-round badges each year.

For the first time in decades, Augusta National will make a limited number of Masters Tournament badges available to the public via its website, beginning with the 2012 event.

Golf fans will be allowed to submit their applications to both the tournament and for practice rounds via Masters.com. The club is moving all of its ticketing online, including ticket services for annual patrons.

“Moving the entire application process to our official tournament website is a safe and convenient way for those wishing to apply for daily practice round tickets,” said Masters chairman Billy Payne. “We are also pleased to provide a limited number of tickets for the individual tournament round days, which, up until now, have only been allocated to our series badge holders.”

Daily tournament ticket applications must be submitted by June 30, with practice round applications allowed until July 30. Each allocation will have its own random selection process, with applicants notified by email within several weeks of the application deadline.

Until now, practice round tickets have only been available via lottery.

Next year’s tournament runs the week of April 2.

[story via ESPN]